China-Japan relations rely on fostering mutual trust

By Li Ruoyu
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 7, 2016
Adjust font size:

On May 1, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida left Beijing after a three-day visit to China. This is the first official visit to China by a Japanese foreign minister since former Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba’s visit in November 2011. During Kishida’s trip, he held dialogues with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, and met with Premier Li Keqiang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi. It can be said that Kishida received a very high-level reception which reflects China’s sincerity to improve bilateral relations.

According to the Japanese foreign minister, Japan will relax its multiple-entry visa requirements for Chinese citizens. The new rules will extend the validity of multiple-entry visas for Chinese citizens visiting Japan for business and academic purposes from 5 years to 10 years, and students from 75 Chinese higher learning institutions will find it easier to get a visa for studying in Japan. The visa relaxation can be viewed as a well-meaning signal from the Japanese government, but this act of goodwill does not exist in isolation. We need to analyze against the background of Japan’s diplomacy, so as to understand its true meaning.

On April 25, two days before Kishida announced his official visit, he delivered a speech addressing Japan-China relations at the Yomiuri International Economic Society in Tokyo. Kishida said he hoped that China and Japan could form a new relationship through frank and direct dialogues. He stressed Japan’s efforts on improving its relations with China and stated his hope that China would cooperate actively, since a unilateral effort won’t lead to bilateral development.

Kishida also proposed three major expectations for the development of Japan-China relations. He calls on both countries to expand cooperation, address mutual concerns and enhance mutual understanding and trust between their countries.

Kishida is considered an ally of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since Abe took office for the second time, Kishida has been serving as foreign minister. Therefore, Kishida should take some responsibility for the continually cold relations between China and Japan. However, this doesn’t mean that Fumio Kishida and Shinzo Abe are fully responsible for the floundering of bilateral relations; rather, impaired China-Japan relations are an inevitable result of Japan’s right-wing political ideas.

On April 21, Abe made ritual offerings to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Class-A convicted war criminals of World War II. This was completely out of step with the goal of improving Sino-Japanese relations that was intended by Kishida’s visit. It’s well-known that Abe maintains a right-wing view of history. Abe and Kishida clearly understand the benefits of a healthy bilateral relation with China. However, due to Abe’s right-wing position, a structural contradiction surely exists between Japan’s actual policy and the improvement of Sino-Japanese relations.

In March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused the Japanese government and leaders of "double dealing," saying that on one hand, the Japanese government and leaders say nice things about wanting to improve the relations, while on the other hand, they repeatedly cause trouble for China.

Fumio Kishida's official visit was undoubtedly a show of sincerity, but as long as Abe continues to hold a right-wing governing philosophy, “double dealing” won’t disappear from the Japanese political arena. After China, the Japanese foreign minister will pay official visits to Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, some of which are significantly involved in the South China Sea issue. Both the Chinese people and the international community are waiting to see how Japan will act with regards to this disputed issue.

The author is an assistant research fellow at the Institute of Japanese Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The article was written in Chinese and translated by Lin Liyao.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors only, not necessarily those of

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from